Saturday, September 13, 2014

BMs from the Middle East

My new best friend in Egypt
Available in any pharmacy without a prescription

A friendly note: If you have never read my blog before, I tend to speak freely about body excretions. If this will gross you out, please refrain from reading the following. 
Cheers and may your movements always be painless and liberating, 

Before I moved to Cairo, people who had visited and/or lived here had warned me about major stomach issues that would ensue. I was naive and thought that since I had eaten semi-raw fish in the beautiful, yet developing country of Costa Rica, my intestines were immune to any parasite. 

I was wrong. 

If you have traveled outside of the States, you fit into one of two categories-you cannot poop or you cannot stop pooping. I thought I was in the clear when I first arrived- surprisingly, my bowel movements were nothing to report about.

Then I ate beef. 

I have never experienced this type of pain and discomfort before. Ladies, it is like having period cramps throughout your intestinal tract. I could literally feel the bacteria attacking me and it was defnititely on the offense. I had to be in close proximity to a toilet for the majority of the weekend, for fear of shatting myself. Luckily, I had not started school yet. (more on that incident in a bit) It was a reprieve hearing that my fellow ex-pat newbies were experiencing the squirtiness as well. I was afraid to eat or drink anything. Call it the Egyptian diet as I think I have dropped a pant size since living here amidst the pastries I have been consuming.

The worst night was a meet and greet on the Cornish, the promenade that lines the Nile River. All of the administration from Hayah treated us to a Benihana-inspired Asian Fusion dinner.  Everything was overly spiced, but not wanting to be rude or cause a scene, I ate everything in front of me including the head of a prawn. Like clockwork, 17 minutes after the meal I clenched and spedwalked to the ladies room. As I flushed for the third time, I ran in to fellow ex-pat and Peace Corps graduate Amanda. Amanda gave me some advice for surviving uncontrollable diarrhea. Mashed potatoes and plain white rice as the meal of choice. She advised me to stay away from vegetables and sugar. I thanked her as I exited the bathroom with a newfound empowerment and can-do attitude.  

Needing an IKEA trip the next day, with my spunky friend Mary, I enjoyed my mashed potatoes sans gravy, rice and deep fried chicken nuggets. #treatyo'self.  

I am not happy here in Cairo-deeply missing Alex, my family, my friends in California. But I will say that I am truly learning to appreciate simple life pleasures. For example, I high fived my ex-pat community when I pooped a solid for the first time in weeks. #winning I felt like I could accomplish anything. 

Then I ate a chicken. 

Cairo Kitchen came highly recommended. I ordered a half chicken, thinking that I was doing my body a service by ordering protein. After placing an order on Otlob and the delivery man making abnormally good time, I ate my chicken as the maintenance man worked on my internet and electrical issues. The rotisserie looked a bit pink, but I was starving and figured that BBQ chicken sometimes looks this way in the States. I ate the whole damn animal. 

It hit me during episode 10 of Orange is the New Black. My tummy felt a bit gurgly, but I ignored this feeling, not wanting to pause my lap top and wait another 20 minutes for the episode to re-load. I was not going to wait another day to see what happens to Vi's vicious ways, Red's revenge and Sister's sustained hunger strike.  

I woke up in the morning and felt like crap. (pun intended) But as my fellow educators know, calling in and writing lesson plans is such a bitch. It is easier to suck up the sickness and teach. Luckily, I had my favorite sixth grade class that morning. As I was explaining the procedures and routines of Ms. Erika's classroom, a heat wave came over me. I started sweating in front of the class, wondering if the double dragon would reappear. I was panicking and walked out of the class. I had 19 girls in the classroom staring at me as I reached for the trash can and dry heaved in the corridor. Thank goodness the force did not let anything out the other end this time. #breakfastburrito 

After visiting the on-campus clinic, Dr. Rehma introduced me to my other Cairo best friend, Streptoquin. This antibiotic paired with Antinal was the dream team. In two days, I was back to drinking coffee and beer and dealing with a yeast infection. 

I hope this does not deter you from visiting the Middle East-the food tastes lovely going down. Take a chance and come to Egypt. I will treat you to a Shisha, foul and kosheri. And my bathroom plumbing is fantastic.           

ma'a salama, 

Foul (beans, peppers, onions, spices) and Eyptian bread 


  1. I had a very similar experience the first six weeks of living in Rwanda. Hang in there, my friend. Your body and you will adjust.

  2. This is great. Best blog post yet, you had me dying. Hope it gets better though.

  3. Tasteful story by the way, I read it while I was on the Jon! Lol jk

  4. Such great stories to share: keep them coming. Hugs, Nanci